Day At The Track

Whelan bang on in contract dispute

06:46 PM 28 Dec 2008 NZDT
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Finally President Jim Whelan and John Walzak of OHHA are doing the right thing. It has taken them a long time to figure out, the victimization of individual trainers pursuit to the Private Property Act here in Ontario isn't a good thing but I'm glad to see they are taking a stand and hopefully their resolve is strong and they will succeed in striking down this barbaric tool used by racetrack management to destroy a persons career and professional reputation.

Mr. David Willmot of Woodbine Entertainment Group has used this act against horsemen that are in good standing with the regulatory body of the province (The ORC) numerous times and every time he's applied it, it has come back to bite him in the a**.

Over the course of the past three years we (the betting public) had to stand by and watch as Cassie Colman the leading win percentage trainer at the time on the WEG circuit, one of the most talented and truly respectable trainers to emerge on the Ontario racing scene in the past two decades be persecuted by this man and his organization because they thought she was a cheat.

Literally incarcerating her in the retention barn in order to race on the WEG circuit for months. Then when Mr. Wilmot himself decided to lift his decree of ostrasization he still applied restrictions to her and her horses for months that didn't apply to any other horse trainer competing on the WEG circuit.

This draconian punishment delivered by the stroke of a pen without due diligence or without just cause or without Cassie Colman ever being charged with an offence by the ORC did nothing but portray the industry as barbaric. Where the same rules don't apply to all individuals.

Why? Because of rumor and innuendo. Jealousy of other trainers unable to beat her on the racetrack.

She was simply doing too good!! She had to be a cheat eh?

Oh yes, Wilmot would make sure the suspected cheat was expelled and if the ORC wouldn't do the job he would.

Mr. Wilmot was all to keen to go along with this pigheaded ideology and bring down the wrath of banishment by means of evoking the Private Property Act. She either agrees to race out of retention or she's off the grounds.

Well Cassie endured and was never charged or convicted of a racing offence and I don't know whether Mr. Wilmot ever apologized for his actions but enough is enough.

This evoking of the Private Property Act against a person in good standing with the ORC goes against every morsel of diplomacy ever written into an agreement or constitution in Canada.

This alone is grounds enough for the horseman of Ontario to draw a line in the sand and take a stand until they are successful in striking down this right Mr. Wilmot seems to think he has to lord over horseman in good standing with the ORC.

Horseman listen to what Mr. Whelan is saying, "We do not condone cheating! At issue here is a demand from WEG that we give up the right to represent horsemen at the ORC or in the courts. We must retain our right to ensure that horsemen get the due process the law of Canada promises - to do that we must ensure that a valid ORC racing license gives access to racing at every Ontario racetrack and horseman can count on their association to support their rights. The ORC has been given the authority to regulate horse racing in Ontario by the provincial government. There is no need for WEG or any other racetrack operator to impose another regulatory process."

Truer words have never been spoken.

What Mr. Wilmont did to Cassie Coleman was and is unacceptable and as long as he has the right to enact the P.P.A. he could inflict the same unwarranted punishment against any horseman.

Robert Leatham

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